Born in the Cape Town township of Langa to a single mother, Sihle is the youngest of four siblings. “My mom is my role model. She raised four children single-handedly. She has a strong will and stayed positive under tough circumstances, shielding us from the social ills in my community. She is my source of inspiration to do my utmost best and she is the story behind my hard work and perseverance.”
When Sihle enrolled at Christel House South Africa in second grade, she spoke only Xhosa. But today, she has a powerful command of the English language and a clear vision for her future, as evidenced by her own words.
“I started off as an English interpreter for other Xhosa learners. Then I taught basic English to my mom and siblings—and even some neighbors in Langa. At Cape Peninsula of Technology, where I am currently studying Events Management, I am sometimes asked to be a motivational speaker and to emcee events.”
“Ultimately, I want to establish my own events management company and develop my personal brand. I want to share my success story with the world. My mom, my biological family and Christel House will be on my giving-back list.”
Your support of ‘Help South African H.S. Grads Attend College’ is helping students like Sihle overcome obstacles and continue their education. Thank you for helping our students pursue their dreams.
When Danika was only 6, her parents separated, and she was faced with the difficult decision of whether to live with her mother or father. After weighing her relationship with both, Danika decided life with her father would be more stable and supportive. The two live with Danika’s grandmother and uncle in a tiny dwelling where Danika shares a bedroom with her father, and her uncle sleeps on the sofa.
In 2008, Danika graduated from Christel House Mexico. Danika is now in her final year of university, where she’s studying to become a clinical psychologist. She plans to use her skills to help others find solutions to their problems.
“Because of Christel House, I’m in the best university in Mexico City—Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Christel House has provided me with opportunities to be a better student, a better psychologist and a better person,” she says. “When people tell me I’m successful, I think it is because I follow the four Christel House values—respect, responsibility, integrity and independence. For me, those are the basic rules to live a better life.” Your support of ‘Educate a Mexico Girl-Child from the Barrios’ is helping young girls and women, like Danika, reach their full potential. Thank you for helping these students get the education they need for a brighter future.
The Christel House Work/Study Program helps build on high school success as students enter adult life, giving grads support and guidance as they navigate the challenges of their education, careers—and dreams. Here’s one student’s story . . .
Chantelle is a lot like other ambitious college students. The 2014 Christel House Academy graduate and Work/Study student is a social work major who truly wants to help people. She made the dean’s list last semester. And next year she hopes to be a resident assistant.
Chantelle loves college life. She embraces the hard work. She’s used to it. What’s new are the comforts—a place to study, a bed of her own, somewhere to call home.
Not so long ago, things were much different.
While she was in high school, Chantelle’s family was evicted from their apartment, and Chantelle became homeless. “Things were hard,” she says. “I slept on couches.”
During high school Chantelle worked 30 hours a week at the local Dairy Queen to support herself. She had to find a place to live and pay her own rent. “I was responsible for all my needs—food, clothing, school supplies and phone bills.”
Chantelle worked so much, her grades began to slip. Then her grandmother died, and Chantelle hit rock bottom. “I was on the verge of dropping out,” she admits. That’s when Chantelle’s Christel House Academy counselor stepped in. “She was my backbone,” Chantelle says. “She pushed me to do better.” The Work/Study Program inspired Chantelle to envision a future that included college—studying social work—and helping others. Chantelle cut back on work hours and amped up study time.
With continued guidance and support through the Work/Study Program, Chantelle earned scholarships and financial aid sufficient to cover costs for her entire freshman year. On move-in day at Indiana State University, Chantelle’s Christel House Academy counselor drove her to school and helped her settle in.
This semester, Chantelle is enrolled in 18 hours of university courses—a full load—but she still makes time to give back, a value instilled in her at Christel House. Over the holidays, she collected 190 pairs of jeans for homeless teens.
Chantelle is ambitious about her future. She’d like to be a high school counselor, like the Christel House Academy counselors who inspired her. “I want to help out where it starts: in school,” she asserts. Eventually she’d like to earn her master’s degree. “First, I need to get my career going so I can be stable.”
The Christel House Work/Study Program helps ensure Chantelle’s stability now, as she’s pursuing her goals. “They go the extra mile,” she says. “Other schools just get you through high school. Then a lot of people fall off and give up. At Christel House, they genuinely care about their students and graduates. I don’t think any other schools have that level of support.”
Through your support of “Help Inner City Youth Visit and Apply for College,” you are helping Christel House studentsprepare for life after graduation. You help students succeed.Learn more about the Christel House Work/Study Program and Chantelle’s story at www.christelhouse.org/Chantelle